Office of Appellate Courts Waseca County
Michael Wayne, Rush City, Minnesota, pro se.
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Matthew Frank, Assistant Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Paul Dressler, Waseca County Attorney, Waseca, Minnesota, for respondent.
1. Appellant's motion filed pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1a (2012), was properly denied by the postconviction court because the motion failed to establish that the evidence to be tested was subject to a chain of custody and was materially relevant to appellant's actual innocence.
2. If appellant's motion was properly treated as a petition, his claim was time-barred pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(c) (2012), because appellant knew or should have known of the claim more than two years before the petition was filed.
Considered and decided by the court without oral argument.
Appellant Michael Wayne was convicted of murder in connection with the death of Mona Armendariz. Wayne was sentenced to life in prison. We consolidated Wayne's direct appeal and his appeal from the denial of his first petition for postconviction relief and ultimately affirmed his conviction. State v. Fenney, 448 N.W.2d 54, 56-57 (Minn. 1989). Wayne filed three subsequent petitions for postconviction relief, which were all denied by the postconviction court and affirmed by our court. Wayne v. State (Wayne IV), 747 N.W.2d 564 (Minn. 2008); Wayne v. State (Wayne III), 601 N.W.2d 440 (Minn. 1999); Wayne v. State (Wayne II), 498 N.W.2d 446 (Minn. 1993).
Armendariz was murdered on July 29, 1986. She had been beaten and stabbed, and died when her throat was slit. When found, her body was naked from the waist down, her T-shirt was torn and pushed up over her breasts, and a curling iron had been inserted into her vagina. The facts underlying Wayne's conviction for this crime are set forth in Fenney and will not otherwise be repeated here. See 448 N.W.2d at 55-57.
On February 14, 2012, Wayne filed what he captioned as a "Motion for DNA Analysis" pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 1a (2012). Wayne requested DNA testing of Armendariz's underwear to prove he did not sexually assault Armendariz and that Armendariz was in sexual relationships with other individuals. Construing Wayne's motion as his fifth petition for postconviction relief, the postconviction court found the petition was barred under both State v. Knaffla, 309 Minn. 246, 252, 243 N.W.2d 737, 741 (1976), and Minn. Stat. § 590.01, subd. 4(c) (2012).
The parties did not brief the threshold issue of whether the postconviction court erred when it treated Wayne's subdivision 1a motion as a petition for postconviction relief. We need not address that threshold issue because, whether treated as a subdivision1a motion or as a petition for postconviction relief, Wayne's claim fails.
Under subdivision 1a, an individual convicted of a crime may bring a motion for "fingerprint or forensic DNA testing to demonstrate the person's actual innocence" if the evidence to be tested: (1) was "secured in relation to the trial which resulted in the conviction"; and (2) "was not subject to the testing because either the technology for the testing was not available at the time of the trial or the testing was not available as evidence at the time of the trial." Id., subd. 1a(a). A person who makes a motion under subdivision 1a must present a prima facie case that "identity was an issue in the trial; and . . . the evidence to be tested has been subject to a chain of custody sufficient to establish that it has not been substituted, tampered with, replaced, or altered in any material aspect." Id., subd. 1a(b). Additionally, the testing must have "the scientific potential to produce new, noncumulative evidence materially ...